DES suggests . . . dancing, reading, watching & listening

Michael Clark in “Mmm . . .” 1992. Photograph Hugo Glendinning

Whet your appetite for Michael Clark . . the brilliantly audacious dancer & choreographer – whose work has been described as an ‘adrenaline shot that sends you away buzzing’ – is currently being celebrated in Cosmic Dancer an exhibition at London’s Barbican. Read the notes, look at the images New York Times review . . AND look forward to it travelling to V&A Dundee in October 2021.

Read up on Victor Papanek, (1923 – 1998) the Austrian born designer who believed passionately in design that was fired & formed by ecological & social concerns. Visit online the exhibition Victor Papanek: The Politics of Design at Design Museum, Den Bosch in the Netherlands.

Watch this year’s Andrew Carnegie Lecture presented by University of Edinburgh | Edinburgh College of Art. Artist Sonia Boyce discusses her work Six Acts & the controversy that arose out of a performance that took place at Manchester Art Gallery in 2018, which included the temporary removal of the painting Hylas and the Nymphs (1896) by John William Waterhouse. Watch Gathering a History of Black Women from 2018.

Read Shuggie Bain, Douglas Stuart’s debut novel which has won this year’s Booker prize. Glasgow-born Stuart who says he likes writing about ‘tender souls in tough situations,’ writes with moving honesty about addiction, tangled love & growing-up in the city in the 1980s. Listen to Damien Barr’s interview with Douglas Stewart in The Literary Salon, watch Damien’s The Big Scottish Book Club.

Catch up with the curator Paolo Antonelli & the writer Alice Rawsthorn’s series of online talks & discussions Design Emergency. Read about the project in Wallpaper*.

Read The Guardian’s obituary of Enzo Mari, the great Italian designer who died earlier this year. Listen to a discussion on Mari’s influence with curator Paola Antonelli & writer Alice Rawsthorn. Head online to the Milan Triennale to read more about a show of Mari’s work curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist.

Enzo Mari’s Apple designed for Danese in 1963.
Luke Fowler & Vikki Morton of Sotto Voce who have just released Klee EP. Photograph Andrew Wilson

Listen to Klee EP by Sotto Voce. A patnership between Glasgow artists Luke Fowler & Vikki Morton & commissioned by The Modern Institute in collaboration with record label Redstone Press . . ‘The EP considers the relationship between the natural world and technology and references the pedagogical work of artist Paul Klee, who taught a holistic course on drawing at the Bauhaus in the 20’s. Klee drew greatly on shapes, forms and cyclical patterns, studied and observed from nature’.

Photographs from the ‘Look Book’ circa 1960s, courtesy Barrie Knitwear

Read Barrie Girls. Following on from a exhibition presented by curatorial agency Panel in 2013, in collaboration with graphic designers Sophie Dyer, Maeve Redmond & artist Fiona Jardine, Barrie Girls was inspired by Barrie Knitwear, a cashmere manufacturer founded in 1903 in the Scottish Borders. Read Ceci n’est pas une foto, a conversation with Fiona Jardine.

Listen to Glasgow singer songwriter, Amy Macdonald’s new album The Human Demands. Listen again to her 2007 hit This is the Life.

Read The Glasgow Papers, a new publishing project focusing on migration & settlement, entrepreneurship & the arts in Scotland’s largest city – an off-shoot of Outwith, a bookshop in Glasgow’s Govanhill. Read Disegno’s Lockdown Paper with essays from US curator & writer Glenn Adamson & V&A curator, Johanna Agerman Ross. Listen to Design in Dialogue bi-weekly conversations with Glenn Adamson & designers.

Support CAN Circular Arts Network: a circular economy tool for the arts, a new online initiative to exchange, share, swap materials & resources developed by Sculpture Placement Group & SCAN (Scottish Contemporary Art Network). Read Waste: When Trash Becomes Trash, Katie Treggiden’s latest book profiling designers working with materials that are usually considered waste.

“When the rug is pulled out from under your feet, you understand at once that you are going to have to be concerned with the floor…” Bruno Latour, Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime (2017)

Catch up on The Shape of A Circle In the Mind of A Fish: the Understory of the Understory. Marking World Soil Day, London’s Serpentine hosts a free online two day art & ecology event on soil, earth, land and ground which marked World Soil Day on Saturday 5 December.

Watch artist & film maker, Steve McQueen’s brilliant new series of films, Small Axe. Commissioned by the BBC, they recall the reality of life in Britain & black resilience in London’s West Indian community in the 1970s. Listen to Bob Marley’s song, Small Axe . . . “If you are the big tree, we are the small axe”

DES Suggests . . from earlier this year

Read How Architects Have Used Performance to Reclaim Private Space in Frieze. Read Jared Green’s The Humble Public Bench Becomes Comfortable, Inclusive and Healthy from 2013.

Read Luxury and Crisis: Redefining the British Decorative Arts. A brilliant conversation piece coordinated by Iris Moon and produced by British Art Studies, featuring the artist & writer David Batchelor who discusses the quilts made by Arrange Whatever Pieces Come Your Way.

Arrange Whatever Pieces Come Your Way
Quilt 12 & Quilt 9
Installation view at Design Exhibition Scotland 2019
Photograph Ruth Clark
Arrange Whatever Pieces Come Your Way Quilt 12 (detail)
Photograph Shannon Tofts

Watch a Q&A with Edinburgh-based film-maker, critic & writer, Mark Cousins on his latest film, Women Make Film, from BFI at Home.

Read Design CAN Manifesto which states . .

We are challenging you to champion underrepresented talent, commission outside the same old networks, and hire for fresh perspectives. At times, you may need to stand aside. Most of all, we want you to listen to those who have been overlooked. Equality is worth fighting for. Find out what you can do. Join the campaign.


Read Kara Walker, the African American artist’s words in Frieze. It is sub-titled ‘Every day in ‘lockdown’, we are asked to consider the effects of social distancing – as if segregation weren’t already a reality.’ Walker wrote these words before the killing of George Floyd. ImageKara Walker, THE SOVEREIGN CITIZENS SESQUICENTENNIAL CIVIL WAR CELEBRATION, 2013, (detail). Courtesy: the artist, Sprüth Magers, London/ Berlin/ Los Angeles and Sikkema Jenkins & Co, New York.
Photograph Timo Ohler

Head to Artforum for their Reading Revolution, an online resource & reading list.Follow the data journalist & illustrator, Mona Chalabi, who was raised in the UK and now lives in New York.

Read an article in The New York Times from last year by Ibram X Kendi entitled An Antiracist Reading List. Watch Sitting in Limbo, a new drama from the BBC about the Windrush scandal.

Read the Contemporary Art Society‘s Resources for Arts Professionals on Black Lives Matter.

Chris Ofili The Caged Bird’s Song, 2017 (detail)

Watch the making of Chris Ofili’s The Caged Bird’s Song, 2017. An extraordinarily beautiful and vast tapestry that blends watercolour with weaving, The Caged Bird’s Song was commissioned by the Clothworkers’ Company and woven at the Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh. Watch Alan Yentob’s BBC documentary on Ofili on YouTube, see the completed work on show at the National Gallery, London & read Adrian Searle’s five star review in The Guardian from 2017.

Read Black Lives Matter: graphic design’s role in the protest movement in Design Week. Read Black Lives Matter: Resources & Responses in Creative Review.

Follow Design Emergency on Instagram & listen to a series of vital conversations led by design critic Alice Rawsthorn & Paola Antonelli, curator of Architecture & Design at MoMA in New York.

Head to those hills thanks to the National Library of Scotland‘s compilation of films, selected by moving image curator, Ann Cameron. The line-up includes the brilliant spectacle that is Motoring over Ben Nevis (in the snow) from 1911.

Listen to sound work Master Rock by Glasgow-based writer Maria Fusco. Commissioned by Artangel and first performed & broadcasted in 2015, it is an exploration of Ben Cruachan, a mountain which sits in the southern Highlands and houses within its rocky exterior, Cruachan Power Station. And read Maria’s text on her stay in Sweeney’s Bothy on the Isle of Eigg, one of the Bothy Project‘s off-grid residency spaces.

Watch Makar to Makar a collaboration between the National Theatre of Scotland and national poet, Jackie Kay, who leads a weekly series celebrating music, poetry & conversation.

Perriand on her Chaise Longue Basculante (1928 -29) © Le Corbusier, P. Jeanneret, C. Perriand; ADAGP, Paris

Take a look at the work of Charlotte Perriand, the great but oft-overlooked French architect & designer. Listen to a symposium on her work held earlier this year at Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, as part of Charlotte Perriand: Inventing a New World. Read more about Perriand in The Guardian.

Listen to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s tempestuous & brilliant epic poem of 1798, read by among others Ali Smith, Hilary Mantel, Lemm Sissy & Jeanette Winterson with accompanying artwork by Fiona Banner, Charles Avery & Glenn Brown & others. Read Philip Hoare’s article on the poem’s contemporary relevance in The Guardian.

Highway Gothic by Ellen Gallagher and Edgar Cleijne, one of the artworks that accompany the Ancient Mariner Big Read
Photograph Courtesy of the artists

Read Tom Morton’s recent article How Public is Public Art? Head to Oh You Pretty Things, filmmaker Gary Hustwit and independent film company Film First are streaming documentaries for free. 

Read the obituary of the textile designer Althea McNish, who recently died at the age of 95 & featured last year on BBC Four’s programme, Whoever Heard of a Black Artist? Britain’s Hidden Art History.

Colour Harvest, fabric designed by Althea McNish in 1957

Listen to a discussion on the American writer, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring on Free Thinking. First published in 1962, the book arguably launched the environmental movement.

Read David Bramwell’s account of Marina Abramovic and Ulay’s long walk along (no walk in the park) the Great Wall of China in The Guardian. Read Decline and Fall, the history of ruins in art by Brian Dillon in Frieze.

Read Remnants ‘How you build A City’, an online newspaper produced by Glasgow curatorial practice, Panel and Voices of Experience, a collaborative project making visible the female presence in the built environment.

Take a look at Donald Judd’s furniture at Donald Judd Furniture. Read Judd’s 1993 essay ‘It’s Hard to Find a Good Lamp‘. Walk online through the current Judd exhibition at MoMA, New York. Visit the Donald Judd Foundation to read and watch more.

Donald Judd’s Corner Chair, designed in 1984

Follow design writer Alice Rawsthorn on @alice.rawsthorn. Visit ‘What Design Can To Do’ & read Design in Times of Corona. Read Weaving Magic, on the work of Anni Albers in Tate ETC. Listen to US-based designer Neri Oxman discuss her upcoming show Material Ecology at Museum of Modern Art, New York. Watch Abstract – The Art of Design on Netflix, episodes include Neri Oxman on Bio-Architecture and Cas Holman on Design for Play.

DES welcomes your suggestions, comments and ideas, please contact Susanna Beaumont.

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